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Importance of Healthy Weight Control

Are you trying to lose weight?  Do you practice proper diet and exercise?  It is important to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy weight-loss behaviors..  You may think what you are doing is working, but it may be harmful in the long run.  Proper diet and exercise are key to losing weight the healthy way and continuing to live a healthy lifestyle. This is especially important for teens, who need to be educated on the importance of setting realistic goals and enhancing body satisfaction.

Extreme Weight Control Behaviors (EWCB)
  • laxative use (to speed up bowel movements)woman holding a scxale
  • diet pills (such as appetite suppressants or fat-absorption inhibitors)
  • skipping meals or fasting (going extended periods of time without eating)
  • purging (vomiting after eating to rid body of food calories and content)
Health Consequences 
  • " I need to love myself"dry hair and skin; hair loss
  • abnormally slow heart rate (associated with skipping meals)
  • brittle and weak bones due to malnourishment
  • tooth decay (associated with purging)
  • mental impairment
  • fatigue and feelings of overall weakness
  • constipation and gastrointestinal problems (associated with the use of laxatives and diet pills)
Eating Disorder vs Disordered Eating

It is important to know the difference between eating disorders and disordered eating(EWCB).

Disordered Eating
  • Irregular and inconsistent thoughts about food. 
  • Wide range of irregular, abnormal eating patters
  • Can present anytime throughout life
  • Rarely life-threatening and treated with non-intensive therapy
  • Examples: skipping meals, habitual dieting
Eating Disorder
  • Consistent and all-consuming preoccupation with food
  • Persistent abnormal eating patterns
  • Usually develop in adolescence (12-17 years)
  • Life-threatening and requires immediate medial attention and intensive treatment
  • Examples: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder
Eating Disorder Facts
  • Fifty percent of girls use unhealthy weight-control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking, vomiting, and taking laxatives.
  • Teens are 12 times more likely to binge eat if they diet frequently. 
  • Twenty-five percent of pathological dieters progress to a full-blown eating disorder.
  • Nearly 20 million women will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life.
  • Females age 15-24 with anorexia nervosa are 12 times more likely to die from the illness than from all other causes of death.
  • Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness
  • Approximately 81 percent of 10 year olds report that they are afraid of being fat and 90 percent of girls ages 15-17 want to change at least one part of their physical appearance.
Teaching Teens Healthy Weight-Control Behaviors

Body dissatisfaction is a strong predictor of unhealthy weight-control practices.  It is important to help teens both improve body image through use of enhancement comparisons and focus on learning to set realistic and attainable weight-loss goals.  Parents and teachers should learn the signs of EWCB and eating disorders and understand the.

Jana Hart- Extension Agent- FCS/4-H

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